Who is liable for damages to car?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Who is liable for damages to car?

The owner of a salon across the road had a 4×8 metal flashing sign in front of her business. During a thunderstorm the sign slid across a two lane highway and impacted the side of my car. The car was parked off the street in a parking lot with other cars. The sign was not attached to any anchoring system or tied down. This is a commercial lighted sign with a flashing arrow. At first she said she would pay for it, then changed her mind and called it an act of god. She has business liability, but told me her deductible is 1500. I have 2 estimates for repairs 1 is 1380 and 2 is 1850. She has avoided me for a week and doesn’t want to file a claim. I have photos of the sign embedded in my car and the damage to it. I also have photos of it before the damage. I was trying to sell this car. My coverage is liability only. How do I get her to pay me?, or how do I file a claim to her insurance ?

Asked on March 15, 2017 under Accident Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can't file a "claim" to her insurance unless she gives you the insurance information voluntarily--and even if you do, the insurer could refuse to pay, since it is voluntary for an insurer to pay a claim made by someone other than their insured. They will typically pay if they think that you would be highly likely to win if you sue--but if they believe that you would more likely than not lose, they will not pay.
The only way to compel payment is to sue her (you sue her, not her insurer) and win, by proving in court that it was negligent or reasonably careless to not secure this sign in some way. Whether you can do that will depend on 1) are there any manufacturer recommendations for a sign like this--e.g. did she ignore manufacturer advice to secure it? and 2) are other similar signs generally secured or not? Only if you have evidence that what she did was negligent or unreasonably careless would you be likely to win.

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